Willie’s Cacao is the name of a chocolatier owned and operated by William Harcourt-Crooze, an Englishman with a passion for chocolate. Willie maintains that cacao from particular locations is like a fine wine, with its own flavor and character. Not surprisingly, given that approach, each of his chocolates is made from beans from a single estate. He uses only cacao, raw cane sugar and natural cocoa butter in his formulations. Two of his creations crossed my desk, the “Pure Gold” 100% cacao and the “Rio Caribe Gold”, which is 72% cacao. Both come in square bars of 40-50 grams.
The “Pure Gold” hails from Venezuela, from Sur del Lago, just south of Lake Maracaibo. It is, in fact, 100% cacao, so be warned: this is one for the true connoisseur. The bar looks deceptively like any other dark chocolate, but he texture, as you might guess, is quite brittle. The flavor is somewhat bitter (actually, more than “somewhat”), with a slightly earthy aftertaste, with hints of smoke and nuts. I think even for the hardened chocolate addict, this one will take some getting used to.
“Rio Caribe Gold” is from San Agustin, an estate near the village of Rio Caribe in the northeast of Venezuela. This one is a bit more approachable — the texture is quite crisp, but there is a bit of sugar to cut the bitterness. The flavor is full and rich, with a hint of coffee and a slight tang in the aftertaste. It might serve as good training for the “Pure Gold”.
Willie’s Cacao’s website is worth exploring — he (and this does seem to be an operation guided by one man) uses cacao not only from South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Cuba), but also Madagascar and Indonesia. The factory is in Devon, England. The site does include an online store, but be warned: it’s not all that easy to navigate if you’re just looking for information.